One of the biggest pieces of machinery involved in the building of the new Morpeth Northern Bypass has swung into action.
A 500-tonne crane is currently towering above the site as it works to lower 70 concrete blocks, each weighing 26 tonnes, into the ground to create the How Burn Culvert that runs through the centre of the site.
The work will take around a week and is the latest stage in the £30million scheme, which will cut congestion in Morpeth and reduce travel time and costs between the A1 and south east Northumberland.
Forecasts suggest the county’s economy overall could benefit by nearly £50million over the next few decades after the new stretch of road opens next year.
Coun Ian Swithenbank, cabinet member for local services at Northumberland County Council, said: “Work on the bypass is progressing well and each week sees significant developments taking place across this huge site.
“This month will see one of the next major stages when work gets under way to create an underpass that goes under the A1 at the west end of the site.
“Once complete, the bypass will cut travel time, ease congestion in Morpeth and open up the south east of the county for further economic growth.”
As well as the culvert works, a foam-mix recycling plant has been established at the eastern Whorral Bank compound. It is taking in old road surface planings from across the county, treating and mixing them and then recycling them into layers for the new bypass road.
Scott Beattie, project manager with Carillion Plc which is working in partnership with the council on the bypass, said: “The arrival of the crane on site is fantastic to see as it marks a major milestone in the project.
“We’re now a year into the build of the bypass, progress is right on track and with work now more visible to the local community and road users – particularly with the delivery of the giant culvert sections and the crane arriving on site – there’s a real excitement for the completion of the project and the benefits and opportunities it will bring for south east Northumberland.”
The work on the new 2.4-mile bypass is scheduled for completion in March 2017.
More information about the project can be found at www.morpethnorthernbypass.org and road users can stay up-to-date with closures for the works by following the project on Twitter – @MorpethBypass.